TIMONIUM — They gathered to honor and remember.
Yet the hundreds of people, who came together Friday to honor five firefighters -- including former Manchester resident John N. Plummer -- who perished in the line ofduty, also gathered to draw inspiration.
"Because they have given, we are all different," George A. Grimm,chaplain of the Howard County Police Department, said during Fallen Heroes Day ceremonies.
On a sunny, windy afternoon, families, friends and colleagues of the honorees came together at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens in Baltimore County to observe the sixth annual ceremony.
Begun in 1986, Fallen Heroes Day honors Maryland police, firefighters and correctional facilities officers who have died in the line of duty during the previous year.
The ceremony, conducted each year on the first Friday in May, also is intended as a symbol of support for families and friends of the honorees and as a show of recognition and appreciation for their colleagues.
"Fallen Heroes Day is not only a tribute to Marylanders who have been killed in the line of duty, it is also a tribute to firefighters and police officers who continue to risk their lives for us every day," said John Armiger Jr., president of the cemetery.
Hundreds of members of law enforcement and fire companies from across the state attended the hour-long event, including color guards from 20 departments. Among the several dignitaries who addressed the crowd were U.S. Representative Helen Delich Bently, R-2nd, and Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke.
The Seton Keough High School concert choir sang throughout the program. A bagpipe corps played "Amazing Grace" while a wreath for this year's honorees was placed at the foot of the cemetery's Fallen Heroes memorial.
Moments later, a Maryland State Police helicopter conducted a flyby over the cemetery grounds.
"A person is not really gone as long as people left behind speak his name and remember his good deeds," Schmoke said, paraphrasing an African proverb.
The other firefighters honored Friday were Robert O. John Henry of the Trappe Volunteer Fire Co. in Talbot County; Thomas E. Hicks of the Citizen Volunteer Fire Co. inHarford County; Daniel J. Raskin of the Chestnut Ridge Volunteer Fire Co. in Baltimore County and Thomas Weeks of the Level Volunteer Fire Co., in Harford.
Plummer, a 23-year veteran firefighter, was a lieutenant at Engine Co. 23 of the Baltimore City Fire Department. The47-year-old died Jan. 27 when he suffered a massive heart attack while carrying a fire hose toward a burning row house on West Lombard Street in Baltimore.
The lieutenant was remembered Friday for his positive impact on the community. Plummer assisted with Little League baseball and was instrumental in establishing a bowling league for thehandicapped.
During the ceremony, Plummer's son, Darren, accepteda proclamation from Gov. William Donald Schaefer.
Undeterred by his father's death, Darren plans to enter the upcoming training class for Baltimore City firefighters.
"All of us are a product of the lives and deaths of our fallen heroes," said the Rev. Joe Ehrmann, executive director of The Door Ministry.
Finksburg resident Susan White-Bowden, author and broadcaster, delivered the keynote address during the ceremony.
Seventeen people are buried at the Fallen Heroes memorial. In the mid-1970s, 330 burial spaces at the cemetery were set aside for Fallen Heroes and their spouses.